5 Possible Salary Cap Casualties for St. Louis Rams This Offseason
5 Potential Salary Cap Casualties for St. Louis Rams This Offseason
Picking in the top 10 of the NFL Draft for a half of a decade straight really put a dagger into the St. Louis Rams’ salary cap future. Under the previous collective bargaining agreement (CBA) when the rookie contracts called for astronomical amounts of guaranteed money to players that had proven nothing at the professional level, St. Louis was stuck with a number of lofty selections.
And as could be expected by the law of averages, not all of those picks panned out. That has led the Rams into the situation they are still attempting to dig out of in salary cap purgatory with very little wiggle room under the league’s ceiling. Extensions with defensive end Chris Long and linebacker James Laurinaitis along with Sam Bradford’s asinine cap hit will force team to trim fat from their current budget once again going into the offseason.
Though the Rams didn’t hold back this past free agency period with their signings of both left tackle Jake Long and tight end Jared Cook to lucrative deals, the structure of those deals will start to impact their ability to spend this upcoming offseason. It will be mandatory that the Rams create at least enough space to ink their upcoming rookie class likely to consist of two first round picks to deals, and that in its own right will require roughly $7 million in freedom.
This brings us to the likely candidates to receive walking papers once the 2013 season officially comes to a conclusion. It may seem harsh to start discussing sending guys still putting their bodies on the line for three more weeks to the unemployment line, but the reality of the NFL is often not a pretty one.
Here are the five leading candidates to be released by general manager Les Snead when the clock strikes midnight on the current season.
5. Sam Bradford, QB
Now obviously the Rams did not want the above scene to take place this season so that they could have an accurate gauge of just how Sam Bradford was progressing under center. Unfortunately his season-ending injury in Week 7 prevented that from happening, but his enormous cap hit in the final two years of his deal make him a potential candidate to hit the bricks. Of course that is obviously not going to happen given how hard a franchise quarterback is to come by, but it would help free up a ton of cash if the move was made.
Potential Cap Space Saved: $10.4 million
4. Kendall Langford, DT
It doesn’t take long to go from prized free agent signing to chopping block. Kendall Langford was one of the team’s biggest additions in year one under the Les Snead/Jeff Fisher regime, and he has been a solid contributor to the team since signing his sizable contract. Unfortunately that deal will cost the Rams quite a bit next season and could lead to him being cut at some point. Considering the progress he has shown in his second year transitioning to the 4-3 defense and his durability having not missed a start with the team, Langford will likely survive the roster trimming.
Potential Cap Space Saved: $4 million
3. Harvey Dahl, OG
Good guards are harder to come by than one might think, and Harvey Dahl is certainly the definition of a good guard. Where things get off the rails a bit unfortunately is that he’s being paid like an elite guard. At 32 years of age with the versatile Barrett Jones waiting in the wings, perhaps getting the rookie some snaps in the closing games would be wise to help evaluate which direction to go with Dahl in the offseason. If he isn’t outright released, it would seem a contract restructure is at least in order.
Potential Cap Space Saved: $4 million
2. Scott Wells, C
Another of the first wave free agent signings by Snead and company, Scott Wells was fresh off a Pro Bowl performance when the Rams inked him to a lucrative deal following the 2011 season. Two injury-plagued seasons later he has to be put on the chopping block for this team. The center will finish this season on IR which gives backup Tim Barnes a few starts to prove himself in the eyes of the coaching staff. If the third-year man can look the part it might behoove the Rams to save a little cash and let Wells move along as he’s set to turn 33 in January.
Potential Cap Space Saved: $4.5 million
1. Cortland Finnegan, CB
If ever there was a no-brainer to be cut it would be cornerback Cortland Finnegan. It’s honestly confusing how this punk has managed to hang on for so long in the NFL, and perhaps Jeff Fisher’s affinity for guys willing to push the envelope is to blame for that. He was also a part of that first wave of signings by the new regime, but his play has never proven to be worth the money. With Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson on the depth chart and corner expected to be one of the team’s top need areas in the upcoming draft, Finnegan can wave goodbye to St. Louis.
Potential Cap Space Saved: $7 million